In 2006, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wrote a letter to U.S. President George W. Bush, which was promptly ignored. The context was mounting international pressure on the Iranian regime, especially the UN Security Council, which was nearly unanimous in demanding that Iran stop all nuclear enrichment entirely. To the east and west, the Iranian regime saw tyrannies toppled by U.S.-led forces, and feared it might be next.
Now, however, it is U.S. President Barack H. Obama who writes the letters that are not only ignored, but even mocked by the so-called “Supreme Leader.” In the midst of tense international nuclear negotiations, on the eve of the elections that would repudiate his leadership on foreign policy (among other matters), Obama chose to circumvent the supposedly “moderate” Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, and appeal directly to the dictator.
It is a gesture so feeble, and at the same time so disruptive, that even the liberal Brookings Institution is aghast. Suzanne Maloney of Brookings writes that Obama’s letter is “a blow to the delicate end-game state of play in the nuclear talks at the precise moment when American resolve was needed most.” It will be read, she says, as “a supplication,” and underscored Obama’s “utter ineptness in understanding Iranian political dynamics.”